BENEFITS OF DRONE USE IN AGRICULTURE
The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in agriculture is making farms increasingly profitable. UAVs are used to control pest populations, monitor crop health, and develop cropping plans that are specific to your fields.
Compared to traditional fixed wing aircraft, UAVs can fly lower, slower, and hover in place for extended periods of time. All of which enhance the precision, speed, cost, and safety of pesticide application. In fact, studies suggest that pesticide application by a UAV could be up to five times faster than traditional fixed-wing aircraft.
1. Aerial Pesticide- The fact that UAVs can fly significantly closer to crops without causing damage to them reduces the concern for drift of chemicals into areas when they are not wanted. The UAVs ability to discharge pesticides with such accuracy has decreased the need for applications that have previously been hand-applied by people. These benefits may also result in sUASs supplanting uses that have traditionally required hand-application for certain pesticides. UAVs limit the risk of pesticides drifting to non-target areas, potentially poisoning non-resistant neighboring crops or agricultural workers. Drift can be caused by pesticides being released at improper altitudes, at inappropriate ambient temperatures, or with incorrect droplet sizes.
2. Improved Crop Health- UAVs can essentially make an aerial map of your field and provide a detailed report showing the location and percentage of areas that may be suffering due to insects, lack of water, or other detrimental things. This analysis can show farmers problematic areas to key an eye on. UAVs analyses that can show you how to spot weed and diseases, identify pest-infested areas and even help you count plants and trees.
3. Topography of Fields- Allows farmers and agronomists to create an overview of their fields, to let them mark points of interest on their field (such as ponds, or barns) and calculate how large certain areas on their fields are. Besides being drastically faster than traditional measures, drone data analyses offer exact numbers and percentages together with the precise location of healthy and problematic areas.
II. CHALLENGES TO IMPLEMENTING A DRONE PROGRAM
The technology of UAVs is moving forward so rapidly that the laws, rules, and regulations have not been able to keep-up. As a result, a patchwork of exemptions, waivers, and label modifications is currently required for a commercial entity to aerially apply pesticides via UAVs.
There are rules and limitations, among others, on operational hours, location, and daylight for UAV use. Some, but not all, of these limitations may be waived by the FAA Administrator.
Many of the FAA regulations on aerial pesticide application have not been updated in almost half a century and fail to accommodate advancements in technology, especially with UAVs.
But the FAA has created waivers and exemptions that can be requested to use UAVs in a way that will benefit farms.
III. VALE LA PENA- IT'S WORTH THE EFFORT
Our laws have not kept up with technology however, the FAA has created three general ways to ask for permission to be excluded from a particular rule. Be requesting an exemption and/or waiver a UAV operator could use to navigate to aerially dispense pesticides. The type of waiver required depends largely on which of UAV used. The FAA will waive traditional requirements traditionally placed on UAVs, so long as the Administrator determines that “the proposed [sUAS] operation can safely be conducted under the terms of [the] waiver.”
There are essentially three different types of waivers that can be asked for under Part 107. These waivers are the easiest and fastest to, however, they are more limited in the restrictions that may be waived. For UAVs over 55 lbs., a Section 333 Exemption is needed so it can be flown. With a Part 11 Exemption the FAA can exempt an individual from any FAA regulation. However, obtaining a Part 11 waiver requires passing through a vast array of FAA regulations.
Setting up a drone program can be daunting and leave you frustrated. So don’t try and go it alone get help from the UAV law professionals at the Dunaway Law Group. Contact us at or 480-389-6529 to discuss your goal and how we can help you reach them.